Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rick Spielman

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Rick Spielman building a homegrown contender
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Denver Broncos tore through the 2014 free agency class like a man who’d just won the Mega Millions jackpot. Anxious for a championship and fearful of Peyton Manning‘s sudden demise, general manager John Elway lured as many big names to Denver as possible, evoking a “win now” mentality in the Broncos locker room.

Certainly not the first team or the last to “hire” mercenaries, the Broncos spent exorbitant amounts of money in 2014 to make their roster the deepest, most talented in the league. That offseason, Emmanuel Sanders, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward arrived in Denver, bringing the skills and pedigree the Broncos lacked to take that final step to the Super Bowl.

Elway’s spending frenzy finally paid off, as Peyton Manning and the über-talented Broncos won Super Bowl 50 together this year, earning the greatest “return on investment” that the NFL has to offer. But 2015 is over, and the 2016 season looms in the near future. That championship team is missing key pieces, as the rest of the league has done to the Broncos what they did to them in 2014. Gone are names like Peyton Manning and Owen Daniels. In their place? Career-disappointment Mark Sanchez and yet-to-be-named NFL draft picks.

“Winning” free agency is a double-edged sword, one that worked well for the Broncos, but suddenly spells uncertainty in Denver. Every team attacks the open market differently, which brings us to the Minnesota Vikings, who continue to take a prudent, if sometimes cautious approach in the process.

No, there are no Super Bowl banners in Minnesota, and other outside signings — Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace — failed to make an impact in recent years, but Rick Spielman is quietly building the Vikings into a homegrown contender. Free agents are staying in town, under-the-radar names are finally choosing Minnesota as a new home, and other recent acquisitions — Linval Joseph, Captain Munnerlyn — are contributing in tangible ways every Sunday.

These Vikings may not have names that “jump” off the screen or stand out in the newspaper,  but they’re winning games as a cohesive, well-coached, and tight-knit roster. Consistent coaching, a thoughtful spending strategy, and youth means Minnesota may soon end up on the same national stage as the Broncos — the Super Bowl.

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Following the rumblings yesterday that the Vikings have shown interest in both Reuben Randle and Mike Wallace, today brought this nugget from ESPN’s Ben Goessling:

Of course, the tweet mentions the Raiders are trying hard to keep Holmes, and this note from veteran NFL reporter Bill Williamson seems to indicate they have the inside track:

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Vikings Officially Have Eight Draft Picks
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The first week of free agency is over, meaning the 2016 NFL Draft order is officially set. Rick Spielman knows exactly how many “bullets” he’ll have come April, creating a clear, seven-round roadmap for the Minnesota Vikings.

On Friday afternoon, the league awarded compensatory picks to multiple franchises. The Vikings weren’t one of those teams, as they’ve put a focus on retaining players currently on the roster. Thus, Minnesota officially has eight picks to use in next month’s NFL Draft. They are, as follows:

First round: 23rd overall
Second round: 54th overall
Third round: 86th overall
Fourth round: 121st overall
Fifth round: 160th overall
Sixth round: 198th overall
Seventh round: 240th overall
Seventh round: 244th overall

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The Gamecocks offense wasn’t very good in 2015, but Jerrell Adams finished the season as the team’s second leading receiver with 28 catches for 421 yards and one touchdown. His production improved in each of his four years in Columbia after earning freshman All-SEC honors. Adams finished his NCAA career with 66 receptions for 977 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jerell Adams | Tight End, South Carolina

Measurements

Height – 6′ 5″
Weight – 247 lbs.
Age – 23 yrs.

At First Glance

Freshman All-SEC.

Two-time SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

Recipient of the Dr. Harris Pastides Outstanding Student-Athlete Representative of the University of South Carolina.

Projected Round:

Mid Rounds

After a solid combine performance, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks Adams could have boosted his stock as high as the late first-round.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If you are still tracking the Vikings free agency possibilities late on this Friday evening then your patience has been rewarded. The Vikings have reportedly agreed to a two year deal with punt returner and reserve cornerback Marcus Sherels.

The report comes from Chris Tomasson (who has done an amazing job this offseason) of the Pioneer Press. Tomasson says that terms were agreed to on Friday and Sherels will officially sign his new contract on Monday.

Sherels had visited the New York Jets this week, who are in need of a punt return specialist, but the deal was reached upon his return to Minnesota.

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